"Kids for Kids" Finds Warm Reception in Kidzone
When most kids are asked what they want for Christmas, it’s pretty safe to say that “a goat” doesn’t crack the top 10 list for kids in America. However, this Christmas the kids at Central Assembly of God in Springfield, Missouri, decided to grant some village kids in Northern Asia a Christmas gift that their parents could never afford — not just a goat, but a whole tribe of goats!
Justin Kochs, the children’s pastor at Central for the past 13 years, says he really wanted to help the kids in his Sunday morning Kidzone program (grades K-5) do a unique BGMC Christmas project this year. Then he heard about the Kids for Kids program and knew he had found his answer.
“Kids for Kids is a program where kids raise funds to help buy baby goats for ministry personnel working with people who have never heard the gospel and are living in extreme poverty,” Kochs says. “The ministry personnel give the goats to the villagers — each goat costs $85.”
According to the Northern Asia ministry personnel, the average annual income in the villages is less than $440 a year — so a trio of goats would cost more than a half-a-year’s salary!
The baby goats help families get started in the goat raising industry, where the goats can be used for milk, making cheese, breeding, selling, and even meat. The gifting of goats not only can lead an entire village out of poverty, but gives ministry personnel countless opportunities to share the love of Christ with villagers in both word and action.
Kochs says that he used special Christmas-themed BGMC giving boxes and taped pictures of baby goats to the outside of each box before giving one to each child. He also had a note explaining the project to parents.
“We emphasized to the kids that we want them to do what they can to earn the money they give,” Kochs says. “My goal is to help our kids develop hearts of active compassion. I want our kids to understand the Great Commission — that not only are there children in the world who have never heard about Jesus and live in extreme poverty, but that they can do something to change both of those things.”
In addition to the children working to raise funds, Kochs coordinated with the leaders of the children’s Christmas musical to host a post-musical fellowship/fundraiser. Following the Sunday evening musical on Dec. 4, they held a Kids for Kids fundraiser, offering cookies, wassail, and hot chocolate for any donation.
“We used about 15 minutes that Sunday morning to allow the kids time to decorate cookies for the fundraiser,” Kochs says. “This way, all the kids were involved in helping make the fundraiser a success.”
Kochs was also able to get the ministry personnel who lead the Kids for Kids program to come and speak to the children, show a short video, and a brief Powerpoint presentation earlier in mid-November. “For three weeks we emphasized Kids for Kids in different ways for about 15 minutes,” Kochs says. “Our kids really responded — we had one boy raise enough to buy one goat all by himself and a brother and sister raised $114 in just three weeks — all together we raised over $2,000 or enough to buy about 23 goats!”
“There seems to be a ‘ah ha’ moment that happens in the hearts of kids,” observes David Boyd, national BGMC director. “They hear about missions and suddenly it make sense. Suddenly they say, ‘This needs to be done, and I can do it.’ That same child finds something to do to earn funds. They will say, ‘It was easy, I only cleaned three houses!’ Or, ‘I baked cookies and sold them. It was easy.’ These same kids six months from now will be doing bigger and better things for missions. It is like a seed that takes root and begins to grow!”
However, the kids, ministry personnel, and the villagers were not the only ones who benefited from this effort. The fundraiser following the musical proved to be an evening where the fellowship warmly overshadowed the cause. In fact, the church surprised Kochs by taking a special offering to help the kids with their project. “I had a number of people approach me and thank me,” Kochs says, still a bit surprised. “They told me it didn’t feel like we were asking them for money, instead that everyone was joining together in ministry.”
When the ministry personnel were later contacted and told of the success of the fundraisers, the response was of deep appreciation and gratitude. They wrote: “This is incredibly good news! Thanks for your efforts in making this happen — Central's kids and leaders are amazing! We are so grateful!”
As Kochs reflects on the Kids for Kids fundraiser and the impact it had on the kids in Kidzone and the church body itself, he shakes his head and laughs. “We wanted to teach the kids about the Great Commission — locally through the musical and globally through Kids for Kids so others could hear about Jesus,” Kochs says. “God helped us succeed there, but then He blessed us as everyone had so much fun coming together as a church family around — and who would have guessed — a goat project!”